NATO Defence
on the
of the

Apr. 28, 1997

"Political Implications of NATO Enlargement"

Presentation by Gebhardt von Moltke

Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs

Thank you for your words of welcome and your introduction. It gives me a great pleasure to participate in this important Symposium of the North Atlantic Assembly on the Adaptation of the North Atlantic Alliance and to address in this context the Political Implications of the Inclusion of New Members into the Alliance in the course of the coming years. Exactly a year ago you had invited me to address the "Political Requirements of NATO's Enlargement" here at the same place in Rome. Based on the detailed and comprehensive internal Study on the Enlargement, worked out by the 16 NATO-Allies in 1995 and published - even in Russian - in September 1995, I described the goals of the process, including its wider European political and security dimensions, and the requirements for membership. In the meantime, the process has taken its course and we have come closer to first decisions. The Study on Enlargement continues to provide the guidelines.

To assess the implications of a growing NATO-membership we have to remind us of the changed European security environment and the changes and reform processes which have taken place in many of the European countries in the last few years. Europe is marked by an ongoing process of growing together, a process of integration. If we look back where we were in Europe in 1989-1990 we realise better how far we have already come in this process.

NATO has in these years adapted to the new European environment and has undergone an unbelievable transformation while maintaining its core function of defence. Today, politicians and officers of 27 non-NATO countries are an almost daily feature in NATO's halls or meeting rooms and most of these countries have offices at NATO Headquarters. We have organised in the past few years, not only many military exercises for peacekeeping operations with them, but have operated already for more than 1 1/4 year in Bosnia-Herzegovina together with them in a unique coalition for peace: IFOR, now SFOR. If at the end of the eighties somebody had dared to predict that NATO troops would one day operate with Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian, Swedish or Finnish troops, to name only a few, we would have laughed at him. Today, it is not a mere dream; it is reality. And we have every reason to be very happy about this fundamental change.

A new mentality is at work in the Euro-Atlantic area with regard to security. Never before has there been such an intensive and broad spirit of cooperation on this continent, inspired by NATO's cooperative approach and build around its structures. SFOR is a model of an undivided Europe at work, at work for peace and stability.

In the last six years, NATO has adopted and published a new Strategic Concept which is based on the recognition that there is no aggressive threat on member countries but that local crises and conflicts are threatening Europe's stability and security; it has taken on new missions of peacekeeping under a UN mandate; opened up its doors to a broad cooperation with a large number of Partner countries through the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and Partnership for Peace; and is developing the European Security and Defence Identity within NATO. NATO wants to build and is instrumental in shaping the new cooperative security structures in Europe. But NATO is certainly only one, though an important one, of the elements of such a new cooperative security structure. All the existing European and Euro-Atlantic international organisations have to contribute their share in a mutually reinforcing way. Bosnia is the best example where UN, OSCE, NATO, EU and many other organisations are working together in a mutually reinforcing way to establish stability and security for the country and for the whole region.

But, in order to be able to make an effective contribution, to meet the commitments of collective defence and to be attractive to new members NATO has to remain a coherent, effective organisation of like-minded democracies able to build consensus for common interests.

At their meeting in Brussels in January 1994 the Heads of State or Government of NATO-countries states that the Washington Treaty remained an open treaty and that they would expect and would welcome other European countries joining the Alliance as part of an evolutionary process which would take into account the political and security related developments in Europe. Alliance Foreign Ministers decided in December to recommend to start inviting first new members at the Summit-meeting in July in Madrid. A number of countries of Central and Eastern Europe have asked for years since 1990-91 to become members of NATO. The time has come to honour the commitment of January 1994 and to start the process which could lead to full membership in about two years time after a successful ratification process in the 16 parliaments.

The process is not driven by NATO's desire to gain strategic ground. NATO enlargement suggests NATO is moving East at the instigation of its members; what is rather happening is that the countries of CEE are moving West. The major impetus for opening up the Alliance comes from Central and Eastern Europe itself. These countries have made a very strong case for becoming part of a European and Euro-Atlantic integration process from which they were artificially separated for decades. They want to join the atlantic community NATO represents and enjoy the stability our countries have enjoyed for decades. We have no right to keep them out. All OSCE-states have recognized in several documents the sovereign right of each state to freely choose its security arrangements, including membership in an alliance. NATO's policy is guided by the aim to widen the zone of stability in Europe without creating new dividing lines. We have therefore taken a careful, considered approach and set the enlargement process in a network of wide cooperation embracing all interested European countries, including Russia.

Why is the inclusion of new members extending stability and the zone of stability in Europe? NATO has not only provided the member-countries with the conditions to develop its political and economic structures in a stable way but also to stabilize the relations among the member countries. And it does so until this very day.

The process of preparation for membership in the Euro-Atlantic institutions is already exerting a powerful influence on the development of the countries who aim at joining. With the incentive of possible NATO membership clearly established, virtually all the countries interested in joining have speeded up their democratic reforms and their move towards market economies and settled old disputes with their neighbours. A number of long-festering inter-ethnic and cross-border bilateral disputes have been settled by Treaties. Hungary has settled its border and minority questions with Romania and Slovakia. Romania and Ukraine are close to agreement. Poland has reached across an old divide to create joint peacekeeping battalions with Ukraine and Lithuania. Seeking to earn closer ties with NATO, many Partners are making steps to affirm their democratic orientation. None of this would have happened so quickly without the firm commitment of the Allies to open the Alliance to new members; but not only of the Alliance, of the EU as well which has identified already in 1993 in Copenhagen a number of CEE countries for future membership. Both enlargement processes are autonomous and will proceed according to the conditions and requirements of the respective organisation. But they are a parallel processes and I could imagine over time a growing overlap of membership. Both are processes of integration and not of expansion. They are not threatening, they are reassuring - reassuring because countries will be bound by integrated, multilateral structures which limit the possibility for individual action.

By 1999, I have no doubt, we will have a larger NATO. But in order to ensure that the opening of NATO increases security and stability for all of Europe, not just those who join the Alliance, we will have to take into account the needs of those who do not join or who may join later. This will require NATO remaining open for further accessions and for building trust and close cooperation with all interested European countries. It will require strengthening the Partnership for Peace, which will not only help prepare Partners interested in joining NATO for the responsibilities of membership but also build lasting ties to all partners. The Summit meeting in Madrid will address all these aspects: you can expect a clear statement of continued openness for future accessions and the launching of an enhanced Partnership for Peace programme as well as of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to foster political consultations and relations.

NATO has taken no decision yet on which country or countries to invite to begin accession negotiations this year. A number of specific countries have been mentioned by individual governments. Yet the consensus building process within the Alliance has not started. This will only be done close to the Summit on a case-by-case basis. In the Enlargement Study we have identified the requirements for membership. Last year and in the last weeks we conducted an intensified dialogue with twelve interested countries, as Bulgaria recently joined again the ranks of applicants. On this basis we have started to analyse relevant political, military and economic factors as well as the cost implications. To begin with, only a limited number of countries will be invited to join the Alliance because each new member country needs to be prepared and capable to fit into the Alliance structures and to meet the obligations; but also NATO needs through a gradual process be able to absorb and integrate new members without loosing effectiveness or coherence. NATO member countries have also to be ready to take on new commitments and cost. At the same time, NATO is planning to involve all interested Partners systematically in as much of its peacekeeping and crisis management work as possible. This will help further improve interoperability between Partners and Allied forces. It will continue to foster shared democratic principles and military doctrine, so that when the time comes, the transition from Partnership to membership will be natural and seamless.

We want to achieve these objectives by building on the success of Partnership for Peace. IFOR has proven PfP's immense value in preparing Partners forces to work with NATO forces and to develop a common culture with regard to security issues. It provides a model for future joint endeavours. Our goal is therefore to intensify PfP, to develop a more operational role for PfP, in order to allow Partner countries to become increasingly closer to and involved with NATO and its military organisation, in its consultations, decision-making and planning for emerging crises. We are at present developing in a high level group in Brussels the concept of an enhanced PfP. It will be part of the Summit package. Not as a consolation prize but as a building bloc for European security and stability. NATO seeks to develop with each Partner a cooperation and security relationship that meets mutual interests.

In discussing NATO's enlargement and its external adaptation in general, it is important to remember that it is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end - that is, increased stability and security for its member countries and for all of Europe, including Russia. Indeed, a European security architecture worth its name must be one that gives Russia its rightful place and makes it part of the development of such an architecture. In all NATO statements of the last years it has been clearly stated how important the development of a trustful, cooperative relationship between NATO and Russia is in our view. The accession of new members to NATO will in no sense pose a threat to Russia. Nevertheless, Russian perceptions do matter and they must be taken seriously. Continuing Russian anxieties are based on a profound misunderstanding of NATO's character and intentions. All the more reason, therefore, to make a special effort to allay those fears and remove the misunderstandings. But this cannot be done - and will not be done - at the expense of other European countries and their interests.

The key to achieve this is to establish an institutionalised relationship between NATO and Russia which NATO has proposed for some time already. We need an agreement that would suit our common interests and would establish a permanent mechanism of consultation and joint action on those issues on which NATO and Russia can reach consensus. We need to build confidence and trust through a growing experience of day-to-day cooperation. In addition to having permanent diplomatic consultation we should also have mutual representation at our military headquarters, starting at the top and eventually extending further down. This would provide for transparency and could become an important confidence-building measure. Our successful cooperation in Bosnia is a model on which to build.

Regrettably, it took Russia until December, when NATO Foreign Ministers decided to launch the invitation of new members in July, to embark on process of negotiations with NATO. Precious time has been lost in the past years. Since the beginning of the year four rounds of negotiations have taken place between Secretary General Solana and Foreign Minister Primakov. The fifth round will take place next week in Luxembourg. Several rounds at the working-level took place between Deputy Foreign Minister Afanassievsky and myself. Despite considerable differences progress has been made in developing a document which is supposed to be signed - once fully agreed - by Heads of State or Government and Secretary General Solana. Nevertheless, the Russian Government - and not only the government - continue to reiterate their categorical opposition to NATO's enlargement. I hope, that ultimately the analysis will prevail - also in the Duma - that a privileged relationship with the new NATO serves the new Russia better than a grudging retreat into self-isolation.

What is at offer in the creation of a formal and permanent mechanism of consultation, an unprecedented mechanism for Russia. A joint permanent NATO-Russia Council would be established which would meet regularly, at different levels to discuss on the basis of a jointly agreed agenda political and security issues of common concern as well as to promote the practical cooperation in a large number of areas. Where consensus can be established we envisage even joint initiatives, joint decisions and actions. Bosnia has proved that NATO and Russia can cooperate successfully in critical matters, such as peacekeeping in Europe. Each side would have a voice but not a veto.

In order to address Russian concerns NATO Foreign Ministers have stated in December that NATO has no plans no intentions and sees no reason to deploy nuclear weapons in new member countries. In fact, NATO has reduced its nuclear arsenal in the last years by over 85% and eliminated all ground-launched nuclear weapons in Europe.

NATO has also stated in March that in the current and foreseeable security environment it will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Furthermore, NATO countries have presented a proposal in Vienna for the adaptation of the CFE-Treaty which aims at lower levels - with NATO being prepared for significant reductions in TLE - and a freeze in Central Europe.

Through all these steps NATO addresses and meets in our view Russian concerns.

We have also started to negotiate with the Ukraine on its request on a document which formalises the existing and further developing special relationship. We expect that this document would be signed at the Summit. We attach great significance to support the ongoing reform process and to strengthen Ukraine's independence.

The invitation to new member countries to start accession talks, the continued openness of NATO for future accessions, the enhancement of PfP, the creation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the NATO-Russia document and the NATO-Ukraine document are all interrelated parts of a concept of European security based on cooperation and integration on a large scale. The enlargement of NATO is only one part; it cannot be seen in isolation - also not with regard to its political implications.

NATO, instead of being a single-purpose, single-action organisation, will with its broad and ambitious agenda continue to contribute to alter significantly the dynamics of European security for the benefit of European stability in the beginning 21st century.

Let me conclude with the following 8 points:

  1. The process of including new members into the North Atlantic Alliance will start this year with a limited number of countries but this will only be the beginning.

  2. This process will not do harm but further advance the growing together in the Euro-Atlantic area as it will remain a transparent process and as over the years of ratification until the first new members really join the cooperation on a large scale with all countries part of PfP and EAPC will continue and evolve.

  3. There will not be the large-scale build-up of new infrastructure as these are not needed and resources will be limited. Many of the infrastructure left by the Warsaw Pact will not be used. The effort will be on integrating structures and interoperability.

  4. There will be, at the same time, a parallel process of EU-negotiations with a number of CEE-countries. Both processes have in common that they integrate a number of countries into existing structures firmly binding them. This process will consolidate European stability. NATO and EU will also move closer together over the next years through ESDI.

  5. The enlargement of NATO will not be limited to former WP-states. The former neutral countries which jointed the EU last year are likely to strive for full WEU-membership over time and thereby also NATO-membership.

  6. This process needs a continued strong transatlantic partnership which will continue to be essential for security and stability in Europe.

  7. Russia will have - if we come to an agreement soon - 1 1/2 to 2 years of building its relations with NATO before new members join. This will allow Russia to recognize that this development is not aimed against it. It will, at the same time, enhance its relations with the EU and other organisations. Besides the NATO-Russia Council, the military liaison and the growing cooperation it will have a vast number of verification measures at its disposal (CFE, VD, NATO-Russia document).

  8. To keep NATO cohesion and effectiveness with growing members will be essential, but a challenge; in particular as we are likely to be involved in crisis management and peacekeeping over many years to come.

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